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2019’s Most Intriguing Bowl Games

There are many bowl games. These should be the most fun.

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Bowl season started yesterday as the Bahamas Bowl happened and Buffalo beat Charlotte 31-9. The win gave Buffalo their first bowl win in school history. From a report of someone who was there, it might have been one of the greatest bowl experiences of all time.

Later, Kent State picked up their first bowl win in school history, beating Utah State 51-41 in the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. It wasn’t a bad game (I watched), but the Smoothie commercials were unbelievably bad. Maybe that’s what they were going for.

Two bowls, two schools, two teams with their first bowl wins. That’s kinda cool.

Maybe you’re one of them people who say there are too many bowls; that the bowl games are meaningless. I have never cared for people with that attitude. There’s “too much college football”? What is wrong with you? Do you hate everything? Will you ruin Christmas again this year, Grinch?

Those wins aren’t meaningless to the people who participated, scrooge, and they’re not meaningless to me as I enjoy watching most of them.

I don’t like sweet potatoes. Other people in my house do. When they’re laid out on the table I don’t go on some ranty bit about the horror of sweet potatoes and how they should be banned from the planet, I just don’t put them on my plate. Perhaps you should take the hint, STFU, and go watch your meaningless NBA games.

There are many, many bowl games. Some are more interesting than others. I’ve gone through the list, checked it twice, and this is what I’ve come up with for naughty and nice.

BTW, these are in no particular order. Also - I have not included the College Football Playoff Games. They will be covered by podcast interviews.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl - UCF vs Marshall

I didn’t realize there was something called the Gasparilla bowl. Perhaps that’s due to my bad memory. Gasparilla was a mythical pirate by the name of José Gaspar. He plied his trade in the Tampa Bay area and he is the inspiration for Tampa Gasparilla Pirate Festival -- whatever that might be. The bowl is sponsored by “Bad boy Mowers” - another something I’ve never heard of. They started sponsoring in 2017. The bowl was previously known as the St. Petersburg bowl and before that the Beef O Brady’s bowl.

I find this game intriguing not because of the “Bad Boy Mowers” moniker. From their web site, it appears they sell mowers for people who are very very serious about lawn care. I am not in their target market, I’ll bet they make fun of people like me, who refuse to dump shitloads of chemicals on their lawns. But I wonder what the commercials will be like. This is why I’ll watch at least a little bit.

I’m not particularly intrigued by UCF or Marshall, but I suspect it will be a decent game.

Boca Bowl - Florida Atlantic vs SMU

The Boca Bowl looks interesting. Florida Atlantic just lost their head coach, Lane Kiffin, to Ole Miss. SMU had a very good season going 10 – 2. FAU went 10-3. Both appear to be pretty decent teams. Should be a good game, and they will talk a lot about Lane Kiffin. That dude keeps failing up, and he’s as much a bro douchebag as anyone, which means there’s hope for you, too.

SMU is favored by 4.5.

Independence Bowl - Miami vs Louisiana Tech

This is the day after Christmas at 3:00 pm. Maybe you’ll be back to work by then and you won’t get to watch Miami lose to Skip Holtz’ La Tech team. Miami is favored by 6.5 points, but this game is in Shreveport and might as well be a home game for the Bulldogs. They’re shooting for their first 10-win season in school history.

Miami, OTOH, lost to Florida International and Duke in their last two games. Perhaps they’ll be motivated to not end the season on such a poopy note. I hope not. I want to watch them lose.

So do you.

Hawaii Bowl - Hawaii vs BYU

This is a Christmas Eve game. It’s something you have on in the background while you’re opening presents, if you’re the type of family that opens presents on Christmas Eve.

Someone will look at the TV and say, “We should have gone to Hawaii.” They do this every year. Every year, you think, “I made lousy career choices and never made enough money to take my family to the Hawaii Bowl.”

Christmas is ruined, again.

On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t have this game on in the background. “It’s a Wonderful Life” or Patrick Stewart’s “Christmas Carol” are probably on some channel.

Sugar Bowl - Georgia vs Baylor

This is on New Year’s Day. It’s not as intriguing as the other big game matchups.

As a Big Ten guy, I know I’m supposed to root against the SEC in all things. I’m not going to be rooting for Baylor in this game. Screw them and their sexual assaulting asses.

I hope Georgia beats the living snot out of them, both physically and on the score board.

That’s the only reason I will be watching this game.

Georgia is favored by 7.5. Hopefully they win by 30.

Las Vegas Bowl - Washington vs Boise State

This is tonight! What makes this game interesting is that it is Washington head coach Christ Peterson’s last game. He has decided to quit coaching, apparently ready for the next phase of his life whatever that may be.

Thing is, Chris Peterson built Boise State into the Group of Five power that they are, then left for Washington. This is therefore a very existential football game. You will wonder why a man who has been very successful at a career would chose to leave it.

You will watch and ask yourself, “Who am I? What am I doing? What is that beautiful house? Where does that highway go to? Am I right? Am I wrong? And you may say yourself, ”My God! What have I done?”.

Or not.

Should be a good game. Oh, and Boise State is 12 – 1 and they’re going for their first 13 win season in their history.

Pinstripe Bowl - Michigan State vs Wake Forest

One must wonder if Michigan State can score 13 points and hold Wake Forest to 10. There should be plenty of punting, and the Demon Deacons are happy to be there. Look at this quote from Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson:

“It’s more than just a football game,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said Sunday. “Our players get to experience something they’ve never experienced before and also play in a historic venue like Yankee Stadium against a traditional power like Michigan State. A lot of positives and it’s a great reward to a good football season.”

More than a football game? TAKE THAT, MEANINGLESS BOWL GAME GUY.

Clawson also said, “This is as good as it gets.”

This is a man who understands how to live life. It’s not what you want, it’s wanting what you got that leads to happiness.

There’s this thing about bowl games having to be in the South. In the Warm. I find a bowl game in The Bronx in New York City very interesting. I would love to go there in winter. See Broadway or other things (I have never been to NYC, I would love to go, kind of like Hawaii. Now I feel bad again. FML.)

Outdoors Texas Bowl - Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M

This is another game on December 27th, which is a whole day full of pretty cool bowl games. Plan on calling in sick. Or just not going to work. Or maybe “work at home”, which is much like the previous two with more pretend.

Texas A&M is favored by 4.5 points. I want to watch them lose for two reasons.

  • Jimbo Fisher has a ridiculous contract given to him by desperate, stupid people. I would find it both hilarious and satisfying to see him fail miserably. We can go online together and link to the horrible comments made by Aggie faithful angry about all of this and in doing so feel better about our miserable lives, having not gone to either Hawaii or NYC.
  • I have family members whom I actually like with ties to Oklahoma State. It would fun to watch them beat an old Big 12 foe.

Holiday Bowl - USC vs Iowa

Do I have to bother telling you why this is intriguing?

We could watch two great things in this game:

  • USC Song Girls - The Ambassadors of USC University
  • Iowa Lose A Bowl Game

Iowa is favored by 1.5 points. That is not much. They could easily lose. Woooo!

Cheez-It Bowl - Air Force vs Washington State

This is the nightcap game on December 27th. You’ll be exhausted from a whole Friday full of football action, then finish it off watching two teams with the biggest contrast in offensive styles in nearly all of football.

Will Air Force pass the ball? Will Washington State run the ball (much)?

Will there be 18 turnovers?

So much fun in one day.

Cotton Bowl - Penn State vs Memphis

Memphis just lost their head coach Mike Norvell to Florida State. It’s an interesting hire. I’d say they give him about six or seven games before they’re all calling for him to be burned in a public ceremony. Memphis promoted Ryan Silverfield, their offensive line coach, to take over the program for now.

Penn State fans don’t appear to be tooo happy about this bowl game. They were hoping very much for a NY6 bowl game. Too bad. They’ve lost their offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne as he has become the head coach at Old Dominion.

Penn State is favored by 6.5 or 7 depending upon where you look.

Will Penn State be motivated? Will Memphis?


Alamo Bowl - Utah vs Texas

Utah, one win away from a College Football Playoff Berth and a Pac-12 championship. Then they get buried by Oregon.

Texas, a team who has tons of great recruits, but still can’t put a good season together and keeps going through coaches looking for a return to greatness (sound familiar?).

The key is - will Utah be motivated enough? Will they want to prove something and smash Texas into the ground, sending the Longhorns and their fans into a long offseason of shame, self-doubt and anger?


Go Utes!


Citrus Bowl - Alabama vs Michigan

This is the type of bowl game you’re waiting for. New Year’s Day. You’re just getting up at 1 pm after a wild night of partying, and you want to watch Jim Harbaugh vs Nick Saban. You know you do. Maybe it’d be better if they were in a cage match to the death (oh, the imagination runs wild), but this isn’t so bad.

The wannabes versus the has been.

The storyline for this game will be whether or not Alabama actually wants to be there and how many of their star players who might go in the NFL draft are going to choose to sit the game out versus a the Michigan team that was once again disappointing this season, but only because their expectations are so high every year.

Alabama is favored by seven.

Outback Bowl - Minnesota vs Auburn

Are you a conference rooter? Will you be for or against PJ Fleck and Rowing The Boat?

Big Ten vs SEC, but there’s not really a big win here for Minnesota whether they win this game or not. It’d be cool to have the Gophers beat Auburn (my wife and rotten son would be happy), but you know what will happen:

  • If Auburn wins, it will be because Minnesota wasn’t any good anyway
  • If Minnesota wins, it will be because Auburn didn’t want to be there. This is the way it almost always is when the Big Ten plays the SEC in a bowl and it’s bullshit.

Auburn is favored by 7 or 8, depending on where you look.

Rose Bowl - Wisconsin vs Oregon

The Granddaddy of them all! I like watching the Badgers play football. Perhaps I miss the power running game, the fullback, the tedious marching down the field and the inability to come back if you’re down by more than two scores. Or perhaps it’s just that I appreciate Wisconsin’ fans ability to have fun.

These are two pretty darned good teams, evenly matched. In terms of pure football, this might be the best game outside the playoff. There’s star power - Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert vs Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.

Oregon enters this game after ruining Utah’s dream season. Wisconsin enters after playing Ohio State tougher than anyone else did all season, but not having enough gas in the end, losing the Big Ten Championship game.

Both teams should be very motivated.

Wisconsin is favored by 3.